BEWARE: Pound Signs, Mere Words, Faded Bumper Stickers

Written by Chuck Gruenwald on August 9, 2014

Thanks to Twitter, armchair activism is now possible anywhere, except where it’s needed. A few weeks ago, virtual picketers had amassed individually and in the safety of anonymity to demand that the kidnappers in Nigeria release the schoolgirls whom they had taken.

Thanks to “#letmygirlsgo,” those victims of an evil perversion of religion are now seemingly forgotten, except by their loved ones. Please explain how people who choose to live in an uneducated, uncivilized bubble are supposed to acknowledge, and then cave into, the demands of a passing Internet catchphrase.

In the not-too-distant past, all sorts of high-profile celebrities and politicians were vocal about school bullies. As children started standing-up and fighting back against juvenile aggressors, however, stories soon surfaced about some school teachers and bureaucrats who punished children who actually did try to “take a stand.” As these stories of zero-tolerance policies for bullying victims multiplied, the anti-bully rhetoric seemingly stopped. Perhaps the thought of confronting the aggressive parents of aggressive children scared those bureaucratic role models into pursuing the path of least resistance.

With the bullying issue solved, kind of, it’s time to review other former pop-culture causes. How many actors/activists remember ethnic cleansing in Darfur, or the Chinese government’s brutality in Tibet?

A by-product of living in an age where a pop-culture-driven mentality bleeds into real-world crises is that one story of the pain and suffering of total strangers is forgotten just as soon as another story of pain and suffering is deemed newsworthy. In other words, don’t expect the torture and murder of Jews and Christians in the Middle East to earn the attention of the usual attention mongers in Hollywood or the obsolete media.

While trying to attract publicity for a humanitarian cause is usually a gesture performed in good faith, there are others who only want to be perceived as caring.

As there are individuals who attend a synagogue or church as a legitimate act of devotion, there are others who attend for no other reason than to be seen there; these are the people who brag about their humility. Leeching on to “popular” causes is an act of self-gratification that is similar to trying to appear as a dedicated soul in a house of worship.

What is the attraction in jumping from special cause to special cause without following at least one to a conclusion? Are there people who believe that they are the first to learn about two-hundred kidnapped girls in Nigeria, or school bullies, or something or another going on in Tibet? Or, is the thought of doing almost nothing a reason to feel a sense of accomplishment? Perhaps, the need to belong motivates social issue bandwagon jumpers to leech onto a cause just long enough for others to take notice.

For at least since the beginning of the Arab Spring, Jews and Christians in the Middle East have been subjected to acts of evil that are easily described as demonic. Beheadings, crucifixions, being forced to watch the murders of family members, and other acts that many people in the West cannot comprehend are an all-too-real fear for people who are either not Islamic, or not Islamic enough.

If armchair activists want to support a popular cause, the easiest way is to weigh the priorities of their elected officials and their challengers during election season.

Is a candidate who wants to bribe voters with the promise of free condoms more interested in winning elections, or facing the dangers of a brutal foreign enemy? Does a candidate perpetuate the myth of an American war on women, or does he or she address the horrors of a “women as property” mentality in cultures that are primitive by choice?

For willfully uninformed and low-information voters, the thought of voting for candidates who promise short-term gratification drowns the call to vote for candidates who have a perception of the evil that is the rule, not the exception in the rest of the world.

Regardless of party affiliation, there is the politically-correct battle cry to vote. The only downside to this call to the voting booth is that an uneducated vote is more dangerous than an uncast vote. As the Middle East, North Korea, and the former Soviet Union, among other places implode as a result of a theoretical US foreign policy, many of the politicians who share the blame need not fear losing their next election, thanks to voters who do not realize the consequences of an uneducated or self-serving vote.

A few words on Twitter are temporary, taking a stand in the face of evil, or at least possessing knowledge about the true purpose of government and its relation to the rest of the world is much more permanent. Imagine how different history would have turned out if Moses felt as if he had fulfilled his duty by momentarily standing outside of Pharaoh’s house – at a safe distance – holding a stone tablet bearing the inscription “#letmypeoplego,” and then heading back home.



Born in Chicago and raised in northwest suburban Cook County, Chuck Gruenwald developed an unfavorable opinion of machine politics quite early in life. In addition to cars, electronics, law enforcement, and politics, Chuck enjoys writing, and is also a horse racing fan. He has recently written op-eds for